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Progress Report
GD Deckard
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:26 AM

Pick one book that you want to finish next & post your progress here as you go. Posting progress can promote the book, motivate the author and  provide insight into how writers write a story.

Suggestion only, but maybe your first post could start with where your story came from and why you are writing it. Then say where you are at the moment and what you will do next.

My novel, The Phoenix Diary, began with a series of dreams. They were different but had a common feel. It was years before I realized they were connected by geography and time, taking place in the same imaginary world. I wrote the dreams as scenes, dropped them into a Joseph Campbell plot structure and the story came naturally. The clear advantage is I am able to use my memory when writing most of the story. The writing is easy; time consuming but not difficult. So far, I have 53,000 words completed of a 100k hard science fiction book.

Lately, I've been learning about basic editing. Progress at the moment consists of editing the completed chapters into a "final" draft. Today, I edited chapter 6 of 15. Next edit chapter 7!


Laura Dwyer
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:52 AM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192


GD - This is a great idea, but I'm not sure I should participate, since both of my projects are in their early stages. I only have a few chapters of one and a handful of the other, and they're nowhere near completion.
I like your idea, though. Kind of like coaching, this a bit more directly than the whole of BC.
Mimi Speike
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 12:45 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014



Thanks, GD,

I have been screwing around, I admit it. I'm pretending to do research. What I need to do is to figure out how best to dispose of a few of my no-longer-useful characters (I've reworked the dynamics of my central bit of business), and get this stalled choo-choo chugging again. 

Sly began as a short story. I had created an illustration of Hey, Diddle, Diddle for an art school class. I decided to write, in the spirit of many an annotated classic, a companion narrative, an explanation of the long-lost history behind a piece of beloved nonsense.  

I'm not giving up on Sly! My thinking is a little muddled at the moment, but I'll pull myself together and persevere. 

If anyone is thinking that I've been intimidated by the reviews I've gotten, don't worry about me on that account. That's not it at all.

The forthcoming murder-mystery is so complex (it's based upon what could have happened, as I see it, but didn't) that I am temporarily at a loss about how to proceed. But I'm beginning to emerge from my fog. 

I do have to deal with that despised first chapter. Eventually. For now, I'm going to concentrate on pushing this train wreck a bit further down the track.



Nicki Hill
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 6:19 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175


I'm in the death throes - er, I mean, final chapters - of Strain right now.  The first 5 chapters are posted here, and in real life I'm about halfway through chapter 10.  I think it's maybe going to have about 11 or 12 chapters when it's "done," but I don't outline as I write (the characters never stick to the plan), so I really have no idea.  I just know how it's going to end, and it's definitely working significantly in that direction at this point, so I think I'm close!

This story - which I anticipate will have a fingertip hold on novel length when finished, as it's sitting at a word count of just over 47K right now - arose as an amalgam of several incomplete story/character ideas that rolled around in my mind and got semi-spit out onto paper several years ago.  I did a lot of fiction/creative writing in high school, then put it aside for the next 5 years while I was in college, and when I tried to write again after that, I thought I'd lost it completely.  My brain didn't want to think creatively anymore after years of serious research papers. 

And then last December I stumbled across the world of m/m romance, and suddenly, all of my previous story scratchings burst back into life.  If I'd only known way back when that there was a whole market for exactly what I was already trying to write (and thought no one else would ever want to read)! 

Anyway, in short, Strain was born of a series of failed attempts from many years ago and a new-found love of and appreciation for the m/m romance genre, which let me come at this project from a new angle and with new passion.  I edit as I write (so I go back and reread what's been written already before I start writing each day and edit for style and content), which is especially important for me considering that I don't always know where the heck my boys are going and have to be sure that wherever it is, it fits with where they've been.  I try to edit from a reader's perspective, too, so I read through it rather dispassionately and cut and add as I think is appropriate/necessary from the reader's POV.  It's still super rough - like I say, this is my first major attempt at creative writing in 7 years - but I'm having a good time with it, and my couple of beta readers have given me positive feedback on it, which feels good, too. 




Angela Martello
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 7:22 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Great idea for a thread, GD!

If anyone's following my books, they've probably noticed that I recently reposted every single chapter of the first book of the trilogy (A Kaliphian Matter: Revelations). I had been stuck on a transitional chapter in the middle of the second book (A Kaliphian Matter: Transformations) and basically, as a major tactic in PROCRASTINATION, I went back to the first book. There were some plot lines that I had decided while working on the second book that needed to be changed. Of course to do this, I had to reopen the first book, make the changes there, edit for continuity, and so on, and ended up slashing another 10,000 words.

From there, I returned to the second book - to the FIRST chapter - and reread/edited the first few chapters based on the changes I had made in the first book. Well, now I'm right back to the transitional chapter that had been giving me grief for months. Yesterday, I completed a draft of that chapter. Of course, today, while I should have been concentrating on a monograph on GERD, I was thinking about some changes I want to make to that chapter.

My plan is to whip that problem chapter into shape (well, at least to the point where I'm okay with it) by the end of this week, then post it along with the revisions of the preceding chapters. From there, I can finish the edits and rewrites to the rest of book 2 and get that posted as well. I just have to resist the urge to open up the third book and start fiddling around with that.

As for where the ideas for this book came from - I have been jotting down stories for as long as I can remember. I started this book almost 30 years ago while in college, then put it aside (it was typed on a typewriter). I honestly couldn't tell you what was the inspiration for it or how the characters came along.

A few years ago, I typed the entire text into my first Windows computer, and put it aside again. It was crap - and very, very, very long. When I got laid off from my last job in 2009, I dug it out again and basically ripped it to shreds and did some massive rewriting. I got some feedback from a published author, then did some more massive rewriting. Since it was still very long, I decided to split it into three books - which led to even more massive rewriting.

And I've been editing and tweaking it since I joined this site.


LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 8:40 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662


Some of you have already been hearing about me writing my book of almost a decade Hands of Ash, which is only the first book out of two (maybe three, but it's looking like two right now). I originally only had 20 chapters and thought I needed to just finish out the editing, but since it wasn't properly rounded out, I'm adding 14 chapters originally slated for the second book.

As reference, I already wrote about 40 chapters, I'm in rewrites I guess you can say.

With those 14 chapters, my book will round out at 34 chapters if I don't split any. This could also put it into the 170k range. Right now I have 109+ words up here in the form of chapters 1-22. I am currently writing chapter 27, which will put me at the half way mark of these chapter additions, and editing 23-26. My progress has been quite blazing ever since I bought my typewriter. Best purchase I ever made. But, even with my additions, I won't be done because I have to go back and do some more editing with 2 scenes that need rewritten due to POV issues, detail tweaks, grammatical hick-ups and so on.

Where did Hands come from? Well, it was a little high school thing that I did for fun. College came along, and I still worked on it occasionally, but not seriously until my sophomore year. Then I whipped it out and found that it needed some serious work (a complete rewrite) but it was quite salvageable with minor plot changes and a couple characters to toss. So far the reception has been relatively good.
GD Deckard
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 9:47 PM

Great input!

Amazing, how some of us are completing something that we started years ago. (I began The Phoenix Diary in 2004.)
Nicki wrote, "...Strain was born of a series of failed attempts from many years ago...."
Angela wrote, "I started this book almost 30 years ago...."
LeeAnna wrote, "Where did Hands come from? Well, it was a little high school thing that I did for fun."

Others may be at the beginning of a process that simply cannot be forced.
Laura wrote, "...both of my projects are in their early stages. I only have a few chapters of one and a handful of the other, and they're nowhere near completion."
Mimi wrote, "I'm not giving up on Sly! My thinking is a little muddled at the moment, but I'll pull myself together and persevere."

Maybe for some creativity is not subject to the will and we have no choice but to write as the story comes to us.


Marc Poliquin
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:29 PM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 67


Hi:

I'm currently expanding a short story called The Fate Merchant into a novel.  I'd written it as a short story a while ago during a break from writing my first novel and then moved on to other things.  To be honest, I can't remember what inspired it. 

It was only after posting it here and receiving some pretty positive feedback that I thought it might be worth exploring.

I'm posting the chapters as I write them, which is something I've never done before.  I usually never show first drafts to anyone.  But the desire to get new chapters up as fast as possible is a great way to plow through the first draft.  I usually revise as I go, which slows down the process. 


Nicki Hill
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:40 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175


"Maybe for some creativity is not subject to the will and we have no choice but to write as the story comes to us."

GD, I think you're spot on there, at least in my experience.  I know that I have a very hard time trying to force the writing.  If the muse is asleep, writing is like torture; but when the story is there, it's there, and I'd better whip out my net and catch it like the beautiful, graceful butterfly it is.  I couldn't imagine trying to write on a hard deadline.  I think it would kill the story dead.

And Marc, I've had a very similar experience here.  I loathed sharing unfinished work with anyone before I started writing Strain, but I've found that by putting it out there and talking about it with people, it keeps me motivated.  I have to work on it; I have to get it done.  Otherwise I have people in real life who would be happy to kill me with their bare hands for leaving them hanging!  That's a bit of incentive right there.    And of course, the feedback on here has been wonderful.  I always get a little giddy and do a little happy dance whenever I see that somebody has posted a new review.  I can't get better if I don't know what's not working!


Laura Dwyer
Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 9:42 AM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192


Okay, GD, you twisted my arm. I'll talk. (Haha, like that's ever been a problem with me.)
I got the idea for Aequitas through a writing challenge on another web site. It was supposed to be schmexy and all that, but I wanted a character that would be more than a pretty face. I thought of the books I'd been reading at the time, and started thinking about what I hadn't seen before. The idea of the Reapers popped into my head, and soon I had imagined up a whole bunch of them and an explanation for their existence. The original (much shorter) version was some fighting, sex and death - all that good stuff. But I realized after I finished the piece that I wanted to know much more about these things, so that led me to where I am now - trying to relay what's in my head to words on paper. 
It's tortuously slow.
GD Deckard
Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 11:12 AM

I'm with Marc & Niki. Nobody in their right mind shows their first draft to strangers but there's something professional about many people here that makes their advice helpful. Kinda like undressing for the doctor.

Thanks, Laura. That's good insight into how ideas pop. Maybe you positively wanted a better character because you had one in there, somewhere. Interesting too, how a good idea can come with kin.

I spent this morning researching a piece of meteorite shrapnel from Sikhote-Alin because it was radioactive dated to the same time as an important period in The Phoenix Diary. It's age baffled the researchers but made ideas pop into my head. Now, for the first time, I have a detailed plot background that supports my story. And a sequel. Woot!


LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:19 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662


Haha. First drafts. You would have to pry them from my cold, dead fingers if you ever wanted to see them. I don't tell people I've even written something until it's in the second draft. I guess that's my inner perfectionist coming out.
Alexandria Brim
Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012 3:01 AM
Joined: 10/20/2011
Posts: 353


I've stated it before, but "The Wedding Game" started as a little tale I told myself at night to help me fall asleep. It evolved several times over the years until a new character walked into it one night. He was a priest helping my main characters (whose names changed depending on my mood) get married. Readers of my manuscript will recognize that priest as Fr. Andrew.

I began writing "The Wedding Game" last July. I hope to have the first draft done by July 1st of this year. Right now, I'm working on Chapter 18, having typed up about 85K words. I imagine there will be another 15 to 20K words to go.

I know it seems insane to have posted my first draft, though in some ways it's more of my second draft. I first write the story out in my notebook and once I complete a chapter, I type it up. So I do edits and rewrites then as well. And I've already have a few ideas how I want to improve/redo some of my early chapters.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012 10:15 AM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383


" Nobody in their right mind shows their first draft to strangers"

But then, it's well known that I am a madman.

Seriously, Drag.Race is my first draft of that book. I value the feedback from here highly enough that I prefer getting it before I start edits, especially on later books in a series.

Current Project - The Desert Fox and the Iberico Clavel, part three of the Iron Angel series. I anticipate around 70K total, and I'm currently at around 25K. There are four semi-distinct parts to the story, and I'm in the transition between the second and third parts now. I need to add two scenes to the second part, complete the third and fourth parts.

The meta-story of the series came to me when I was working on the second part, which was prompted by a request by my publisher. Overall, the series ought to wind up with 5 or 6 parts, depending on how long certain bits take to come together.
GD Deckard
Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012 10:50 AM

Alexandria, any editing tips to offer? I just started & useful basics excite me. Like this...

Search & Find the words: was, that, had.
Rewrite to eliminate them if they unnecessarily refer back to something already written, or if it sounds better in the present tense, or, replace them with a specific verb.

Amazing how this helps! Well, I'm amazed

Robert, what is the minimum number of words "acceptable" for a novel? Is it fewer for books in a series?


Robert C Roman
Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012 12:27 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383


@GD - it depends on the genre and publisher. Some eBook Romance publishers put 'novel' at 50K. Some traditional Sci Fi publishers have a minimum of 100K. The 'series' thing generally doesn't have anything to do with it.
 
I've landed somewhere in the middle. When I'm writing something 'full length', I'm generally aiming at around the 75K mark. Of course, some of that is based on the fact that editors have always made me *add* substantial amounts of word count, and it's never been advised or suggested that I cut a substantial amount. That may be because I've done so before I submit but...
Rhyll
Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012 5:27 PM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 22


I had thought that the book I'm posting at the moment (Balancebreaker) was finished, but I've never been happy with it. I began posting, and the feedback started things going again. Thanks to those who reviewed!

I generally start with a very rough outline of the main plot points and go on from there. The fun is finding the best way to get the characters to where they should be. Then sometimes unexpected things happen...
Alexandria Brim
Posted: Friday, June 1, 2012 12:15 AM
Joined: 10/20/2011
Posts: 353


@GD: "Alexandria, any editing tips to offer?"

Not much right now. Most of my editing comes when I'm typing, as I said. Realizing there was a better word or phrase. Since I write it first in a notebook, I may not realize that I repeated a word on a previous page and so have to change that.

I still write fanfiction. When I get ready to post either a new story or a new chapter, it's a week after I finished writing it. A day or so before I post it, I reread it carefully from the top. See where I need to add more, clarifiy something, change wording, ect. Either way, I try to let some time pass between when I finish writing and when I start editing.

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Saturday, June 2, 2012 11:17 AM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Well, okay GD, since you asked….



I’m currently going through the 6th draft of “Agony of the Gods, Softly Falls the Snow”.  At this point the novel is complete at 32 chapters and roughly 180,000 words (a bit more than half posted on BC).  At present I’m trying to clean up the writing - mainly “Strunk and White stuff….” to quote Kevin Haggerty, to whom I offer my thanks for a very detailed review of the first 3 chapters (and if I may put in a plug, has an excellent WIP: “The Ravelled Sleave of Care” which I highly recommend to all).



So where did “Agony” come from?  Well, I’ve always been fascinated by evil – not the cartoonish megalomaniac so common in stories and movies, but the everyday narcissistic evil of those who care only for themselves, ignoring the needs (or the very humanity of others).  At first I toyed with the idea of a world devoted to the pleasure of the ultra-ultra-rich where battles were recreated just to let the mega-rich play general.  Not the recreationist style where actors play dead, but real battles where the poor who inhabit the world actually fight, and die, in a recreation of a battle.  Then I saw a concert with Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli singing “Time to Say Goodbye” and the idea for the chapter about the perfection of music was born.



So I had thought out a lot of the basics (this probably started over 10 years ago), but I was just too busy to write.  Then 6 years ago I lost my father, who I had been helping to care for on top of my day job, and suddenly found myself with time on my hands and a desperate need to do something – so I started writing.  I changed things around a bit, instead of a world for the very rich, I made it a universe where everyone who wanted could have their own world – be a god.  You might think Forbidden Planet on steroids.  Well, now I had my stage, but what about a story?  I decided that a murder plot – someone killing off the “gods” was the best way to go. The main characters would be “everyman” type non-gods required to do the bidding of the gods.  Unfortunately, that has also led to the book being very long.  Just the initial setup was difficult because this was a place I’ve not really come across before, so (as one reviewer acidly put it) “all info-dump!”  As a result I decided to intersperse murder chapters with those dealing with the initial training, and learning, of one of my MC’s.  Since every event takes place on a different world, that also adds lots of description.  End result, about 180,000 words. 



I finished the novel about a year and a half ago, and have been re-writing (and posting on BC ever since).



I admit, I could use a few more reviews just to let me know if it works.



Tom



P.S.  Years ago (typewriter days) I gave a few 1st draft pages of a story I was playing with to a person I thought would be interested. All I got back was laughter over the typos.  Never again!



Angela Martello
Posted: Saturday, June 2, 2012 12:01 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Laughing at typos in something produced on a typewriter is just cruel. . .

Finished a first draft of that troublesome chapter this morning. Downloaded the WIP onto a thumb drive and dusted off my netbook and took it with me while I did my Saturday morning gallery-monitoring stint. Quiet morning; not much art on display (in between exhibits), so not much for kids to run into or touch. And, thank God, the dust exhibit was gone, so I was able to breathe a little easier.

About to sit down and read through it (and edit, I'm sure). Maybe I'll actually get a new draft of some chapters for A Kaliphian Matter: Transformations posted on BC this weekend. (Unless I once again come up with some cool ways to procrastinate. . .)


GD Deckard
Posted: Saturday, June 2, 2012 9:51 PM

No Angela! No putting it off out habitual laziness. You may, of course, "let things sift" mentally awhile so the writing is fresh when you do get back to it. But, no needless delay! Bad!

Thanks, Robert. I suspected book length was more publisher's preference than divine law.

Tom, would you say evil evolved along with other human behaviors? If so, in what circumstances would it be a necessity for human survival?


Angela Martello
Posted: Saturday, June 2, 2012 10:06 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Well, GD, I did have tickets for the ballet this afternoon, so that was one cool way to procrastinate.

I have been editing other chapters for the last 4 hours or so (with occasional interruptions: playing with the dog, checking e-mail, cruising this site, etc.). The drafts WILL get posted tomorrow (of course, I do have to run some errands and prune a runaway vine in my garden. . .).


Kevin Haggerty
Posted: Saturday, June 2, 2012 11:59 PM
Joined: 3/17/2011
Posts: 90


I must confess: I've yet to find it in me to write a proper first draft. Ever. No other art form that I've worked in requires or even seems to benefit greatly from a "first draft." Visual art, aside from oil painting, is a constant evolution from first stroke to finished work (the under drawing and preliminary sketches are much more in line with a literary outline or synopsis); sculpting, same; acting, um, no; play writing, possibly, but mostly it's a matter of "hearing" the dialogue and refining as you go; essay writing, in my experience benefits most from being as fresh and "off the cuff" as possible, so no first draft, but a constant ongoing refinement and elaboration on an idea.

So, I drew pictures and outlined and wrote a few preliminary versions of the opening of the novel before I "got it" and now I'm in the midst of writing and revising as I go. It's slow, but I comfort myself with the idea that when I finish this "draft" it will be more in line with a "3rd" draft, or so, and thus, I will have gained time in that bargain, not lost it.

The origin of the story is funny: it came about as I was watching a truly terrible Dolf Lundgren SF movie called "Split Second" about a cop in the near future on the trail of an alien serial killer. I suddenly had a vision of a world where mental illness was simply twice or ten times more common than it is in our own and spun out the implications from there. I had a fix on a main character and his therapist/lover (in this world of the future, dysfunction is so common that therapists sleeping with their clients is so widespread that it has to be tolerated or the profession would soon be out of practitioners). The story lay in that along with the significant uptick in mental illness, there was a similar increase in psychic awareness (don't laugh! lol). The MC was becoming psychic, all the while convinced that he was absolutely losing his mind. The ending I foresaw (this was somewhere back in the mid 90's) was some sort of epic battle between the forces of control and the power of these psychics with the psychics winning and everything being right as rain, and they lived happily ever after. I remember naming the movie (I conceived it as a screen play) "Dystopia."

And that's where the project sat until a year and a half ago, which is to say, nowhere. I'd just come to the realization that the agonizingly autobiographical graphic novel I had been working on since a few weeks after 9/11 was stalled out and wasn't giving me any joy to work on. I was devastated and painted sacred geometrical images (sort of fancy mathematical quilts) for a summer as I tried to regroup.

Also, I have to say that I would not have started this novel if I hadn't been working closely with a good friend of mine as an editor for his first (painfully autobiographical) and his second (endlessly charming clock punk fantasy) novels. The process was truly illuminating and inspiring. So, I looked around for stories that I imagined might make it as a novel, and dug up this old idea and I was off.

I just got the 5th chapter ready to go out in public and added it to my WIP on BC. It's the first chapter I really get to delve a little into my MC's personal life, after 4 chapters of setting things up and getting the plot moving. And now I'm in the middle of turning the random notes and bits of dialogue I've accumulated for chatper 6 into the next chapter.

-Kevin

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Sunday, June 3, 2012 1:53 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Did evil evolve?  Interesting question GD.  I’m not a behavioral ecologist or evolutionary scientist, but let me give you my take on this.  Evolution works on variation within a group.  When Darwin spoke of natural selection, he didn’t mean survival of the fittest (a term coined later by a newspaper editor, and never used by Darwin), he meant that in a given situation the individuals with the most appropriate characteristics would survive and reproduce.  The point is to have enough variation so that someone survives.



 Okay, let’s look at a simple situation – two friends in a bar.  One is totally Fearless – never scared by anything.  The other is Coward – not a sneaky comic book coward, but a person whose natural reaction in dangerous situations is to be immobilized by fear.  (Most people, of course, fall somewhere in between these two extremes.)  While these two are sharing a drink, they notice that a young woman is being hit on by a bunch of gang types.  She clearly doesn’t want their attention, but the leader won’t take no for an answer and starts to drag the girl out of the bar.  In reaction, Fearless confronts the gang, and Coward runs for the door. Scenario 1:  Fearless kicks the tar out of the bad boys, saves the girl and they live happily ever after.  Fearless is proclaimed a hero, while his friend, roundly despised for not having covered Fearless’s back, slinks off to spend a lonely life in ignominy.  So Fearless is good, Coward is evil.  Scenario 2: Fearless is in way over his head, ends up getting knifed and dies.  Girl is saved when police (having been called by Coward) come in and arrest gang.  Coward, seen as using his head is hero and gets girl. So Fearless is dead, Coward is good.  So selection (in this case who gets the girl) is situational.



I don’t see real evil as being situational though.  I see it as corruption, or an extreme reaction.  Do you know why you get a fever?  It’s the body’s attempt to kill off viruses which cannot survive high temperatures.  Unfortunately, pushed too far the fever does as much damage as the virus.  Evil is like that.  We all have a sense of self preservation.  Some people can put that aside a bit, and we think of them as altruistic (good).  They take care of the sick or poor, share their possessions, etc.  The other side of the spectrum (and that’s what it is) leads to greed, hoarding, etc. (evil).  It is putting the self above all else, and in order to do that you need to diminish the humanity, or value of all others.  That’s evil. In this direction lies slavery, genocide, etc.



So no, I don’t think evil has evolved, I think it’s a corruption of a natural instinct. 



I could go on, but I’ll stop here.  Probably enough holes in this to drive a truck through anyway. J


Angela Martello
Posted: Sunday, June 3, 2012 8:21 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Never go to the runaway vine in the backyard, but I walked the dog, ran some errands, visited with some relatives, added some more sample paints to various places around the house (now I HAVE to get it painted), and got through all the laundry.

AND I posted minor revisions of chapters 1-11 as well as two new chapters (12 and 13) of A Kaliphian Matter: Transformations. Chapters 12 and 13 were the chapters that gave me lots of grief. Nearly finished revising the rest of the book, too, and hope to post more chapters throughout the week.

Hi, Tom - Re: the origin of evil - "a corruption of a natural instinct." I like it.


GD Deckard
Posted: Sunday, June 3, 2012 10:20 PM

Hi Tom. Thanks for your reasoned response. It helps me to handle evil as a theme of The Phoenix Diary. "Evil are those who will kill you if they cannot control you, like a cancer that uses or kills other cells," Ambrose Phoenix tells our hero. You nailed the definition of evil, Tom. But I claim it evolved as a necessary behavior. Sometimes, being good isn't good enough to survive and reproduce. (Mitochondrial Eve may not have been wooed.)

LOL Kevin! Anybody who comes up with a good idea for a novel from watching a Dolf Lundgren movie obviously has more imagination than do Dolf's writers I wish you luck with that book.

Go Angela! It's refreshing to know someone who can write, and, have a life


Tom Wolosz
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 2:09 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Again GD,

        Actually, I think you’ve got things backwards.  Evil hasn’t evolved, intelligence has.  Since you mentioned mitochondrial Eve, we can consider procreation.  As far as I know, there is no such thing as rape in the animal world.  Amongst mammals either the female goes into heat (frenzy) and mates with whomever comes along, or there might be rutting combat among the males (see fight scene in Bambi of all places) with the winner getting mating rights.  In birds, of course, there are all sorts of display rituals to attract a mate, and generally the female chooses. 

        Now along comes intelligence and self-awareness.  How does that change things?  Well, consider a peacock.  A normal bird displays his glorious tail feathers in order to attract a mate.  If the female rejects him, he eventually gives up and goes off looking for another potential mate.  Now add in intelligence and self-awareness to our scenario.  The peacock could still give up, but instead he thinks about it, gets angry (how dare she reject me!), maligns her (stupid slut!), picks up a rock and bops her on the head and has his way with her.  The choice (and choice requires intelligence) to put his desires and needs above any recognition of the worth or value of others equals evil. 

       Here’s another example – take a cat.  We’ve all seen cat’s play with mice.  It appears to be very cruel, what with the poor terrified mouse being toyed with prior to being killed.  Of course the cat knows nothing of this because it has no sense that the mouse is terrified, and actually playing with it is an instinctual means of sharpening its hunting skills (when two kids play catch, is the ball terrified?).  Okay, now give the cat intelligence and self-awareness.  It’s still going to eat the mouse (it is a carnivore after all), and it might decide that lacking a good alternative, it still needs to play with the mouse a bit to keep its hunting skills sharp.  But at what point does playing with the mouse become torture?  And what happens when the cat starts to take a sadistic pleasure in abusing its terrified prey?   This is actually what happened to cause such a protest regarding experimentation with animals.  There were numerous documented cases where experimentation tuned into torture for the amusement of the experimenters.  At this point a choice is made “Hey, this is cool! Let’s do another!” and we’ve crossed the line into evil.

     Overall, I think evil is a choice (we can argue nature versus nurture forever too as a complicating factor) since humans (oops, this is scifi)…er, intelligent beings understand what they are doing.  You may be confusing Social Darwinism with evolution though.   

 BTW Ambrose Phoenix is correct.  I think he would nod his head in agreement with the peacock example.

     Back to you, GD.  

Tom

 

    

 


Robert C Roman
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 2:34 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383


@GD / Kevin - Actually, a lot of 'B' sci fi movies have great ideas, but they wind up being executed extremely poorly. Similarly, there are big budget films that, idea wise, are fairly simple, but are executed with all the bluster and glory that Hollywood can muster, and so wind up seeming much better than they really ought. If Kevin caught or riffed on the idea from a Dolf film, go for it! Honestly, a lot of Dolph's films really *do* have good *ideas*, but as Jay said in another thread, most people aren't entertained by ideas.

As for the question of Evil, at its root I would posit that it goes beyond the simple self interest you describe. Schadenfreude is a real powerful force to be reckoned with, and when it becomes the overwhelming drive, my position is that Evil is the natural result.
Carl E Reed
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 4:50 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608


I'm with Tom W. on this one: Evil is live spelled backwards.
GD Deckard
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 6:25 PM

Hmm. No quarrel here w/the definitions &/or sources of evil behavior. But behavior we deem evil is part of human nature, not some supernatural force outside of us. It evolved as surely as any other manifestation of human behavior. (I may be wrong of course, but writing fiction allows me to create a world where I ain't )

Take Carl, for example. If Carl gets excited by big breasted women in daisy-dukes, that's a human behaving naturally. If he lures several into his basement for Schadenfreude, that's a human behaving evilly. To deny that evil has not evolved is to deny that evil is human (the devil made me do it.)


Nicki Hill
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 6:58 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175


Wow, this conversation got interesting!  I was going to come back to agree with Kevin's post about "no such thing as a first draft," because in my world, this is true as well.  What I posted here on BC was the first draft...but it was also the second, third, possibly fourth...because I go back and revise even as I'm writing new material.  It's a bit like sculpture, to me - first I carve out the general pattern, then I go back and fill in the details, and then it's just a matter of continuing to refine them until it's a lifelike work of art.

Interesting thoughts on the origin of evil.  I'm kind of on the fence with this one.  On the one hand, I suppose I could see it having "evolved" along with the rest of the human race - there's an argument that it wouldn't exist if it hadn't hopped aboard for the ride.  But on the other, I could just as easily see it being a mutation or a short in the wiring - a corruption, as Tom put it.  I guess at this point, I'm leaning more toward the idea of corruption, since in order to buy the evolution argument, I would need to see proof that being evil is beneficial somehow to the survival of the species; and right now, I don't have enough cash on hand for that purchase.


Atthys Gage
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 8:08 PM
Joined: 6/7/2011
Posts: 467


Perhaps we need to explore the possibility of mitochondrial evil. 

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 10:33 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Schadenfraude!  Okay, now you’ve done it.  You’ve moved into nature versus nurture.  Worse, you’ve entered the complex realm of personality.

Let me go back to a cat example.  My son has four of the little beasts.  If you visited one day while I was away, and later told me about it I’d know which of the four cats you were talking about if you simply said “the timid one”, or “the nasty one”,  “the friendly one”, or the “cautious one”.  They all have personalities which define them as much as their fur color or markings.  But they are neither self-aware or have the intelligence to tell right from wrong.  I have no idea what controls personality, although I assume it is some combination of brain chemistry (nature) and life experience (nurture).         

The “nasty” cat has a habit of scratching people.  She’s cute as a button and tiny (runt of the litter), but when you pet her she seems to have this idea that swatting you with her claws out is okay.  Is she evil?  No, she has no idea that what she’s done is wrong.  An even better example is a cat my mother had years ago.  She’d lay on your lap and let you pet her, but her way of saying “I’ve had enough.” Was hissing and scratching you suddenly, without any warning.  Again, evil? No.  Just a lousy personality.

I’m guessing schadenfraude is a personality disorder.  The difference is that unlike the cat, a person with this disorder knows the difference between right and wrong.  Think about it.  Everyone rubbernecks when passing a horrendous accident on the highway.  Why? Curiosity (intelligence), a subconscious joy that this did not happen to us (intelligence).  But there is a big difference between rubbernecking and deciding to feed our curiosity and joy, to self-gratify,  by tossing a large rock off an overpass to cause a collision. Let me give you a person example: I collect antique photo stuff (cameras, photos, etc.).  Every so often a person comes to me with something to sell.  The game is simple – always ask them how much they want for the item.  They generally have no idea of the value and often will ask a price that is ridiculously below value.  Getting an item like this can be a real steal, and an emotional charge too! You just made a killing! I know many people who jump at such a chance.  I can’t.  I make the judgment that I will not take advantage of this person.  I don’t give them full value, but I give them a lot more than they asked.  You can imagine the shocked looks I get when in response to “Can you give me $25 for this?” my response is “No, I’ll give you $50.”

Evil by evolution? Hardly.  If it were so we would have to accept an “evil gene” passed on from parents to offspring.  But then, considering there are what? 5 – 6 billion people on earth, we’d have to expect thousands of Jeffrey Dahmers  and John Wayne Gacys running amok.  Oh, there are a lot, but since they generally don’t reproduce offspring – how do their genes get passed along?

Combine nature, nurture, intelligence and  human nature and you get evil.  GD, I’d submit to you that calling upon the evolution of evil is the “devil made me do it”.  Looking upon the witch’s brew of intelligence, needs, ego, etc. leads to the true source of evil. (All the better too, since it gives writers so much to work with! J)

Tom

Carl: Good to hear from you. Hope all is well, or at least trending that way.

 


Nicki Hill
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 11:15 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175


Tom - 7 billion people.  We just hit that milestone this past fall.  Imagine how many more Evil Jr.'s could be running around with that figure! 

Carl E Reed
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 12:41 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608


You guys sucked me into this one; can't resist chiming in.

Here's what I see as evil behavior: The infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering on others. (By "others" I mean both animals and people—but then that's a redundant tautology, eh?)

We can argue about what constitutes “unnecessary” suffering, but I trust the judgment of the people in this thread to know what I’m talking about.

Here’s my thumbnails of Good and Evil:

The Good: Possessed of a self-deprecating sense of humor, intellectually curious, high degree of empathy. Recognizes that morality is a very difficult thing indeed: the right thing, at the right time, with the right person, for the right reason. (Aristotle) Puts people over ideology, exercises prudent judgment, balances emotion and logic in dynamic tension. Tolerant, reflective, engaged. Low narcissism.

Evil F*cks: Possessed of no (or a cruel) sense of humor. Anti-intellectual, low (or no) degree of empathy. Has a black-and-white, “rigid-thinking”, childish view of morality (or eschews and denies the notion of morality altogether.) Puts ideology over people, engages in impulsive behavior and/or exercises poor judgment, is either hyper-emotional or coldly and callously “logical”. Intolerant, superficial and shallow, cynical and/or disengaged. High narcissism.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of good vs. evil traits; I’m merely riffing on the conversation here.

PS. All is well, Tom. (Thanks for asking.) Recovering my energy and enthusiasm—slowly . . . (When that black wall hits . . . sometimes it’s all you can do to keep putting one foot in front of the other, ya know?)        


GD Deckard
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 8:26 AM

Niki posed the most insightful question, "...in order to buy the evolution argument, I would need to see proof that being evil is beneficial somehow to the survival of the species...."
Is evil part of human behavior because it is beneficial? Or do we have evil people because they managed to survive and procreate? If we track them down and kill them, do we become evil in the process? And if we have to become evil to overcome evil, is that an example of evil as beneficial? What if we just say to hell with the whole question, is it evil to ignore the horrors perpetrated by evil people in our world every day? Clearly, I could use some guidance here.

Athys wrote "Perhaps we need to explore the possibility of mitochondrial evil." Now there is a idea for you Athys. It even comes with an obvious title.

Welcome back, Carl It is always good to hear from you.
What do you think, is Niki right to say there are thousands of Evil Jr.s running around our world, (mostly with AK47's these days, I think, but some so poor they had to behead, oh, 800,000 of their neighbors with machetes and let the rivers bury the bodies.) Can we explain the Rwandan Genocide as mass hysteria, an anomaly unrelated to human nature? Are families murdered in Syria by Evil F*cks exercising poor judgment? Or do the killers mourn the deaths of their own families and evil behavior is just one part of evolved human nature?

Oh No Tom! You posted, "But they [cats] are neither self-aware or have the intelligence to tell right from wrong." I'd let this slide but my Bengal caught it and I had to explain anthropocentric to a cat.
Seriously, intelligence is a central theme in The Phoenix Diary. What happened, apparently 50,000 years ago, that makes us intelligent? This being fiction, I made up my answer but that begs the question, "What is self awareness, imagination, intelligence? I think they are all related but, hey, I'm just making stuff up here.


Robert C Roman
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 8:31 AM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383


Carl's list is more descriptive than analytical, but... I think I agree with him on all points.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 8:44 AM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383


@GD - It would be evil to ignore evil completely, but it's not evil to recognize our own limitations and say 'I can do nothing about this, so I'm not going to castigate myself over it.'

Part of the human condition is that we have the ability, often abused, to see other humans as 'other'. When we do that, we no longer feel any compulsion to treat them as humans like ourselves. When fighting over a single source of food that will feed one family, leaving the other to starve, that's a survival trait. That situation... doesn't happen all that often any longer, but we keep looking for reasons to mark humans as 'other'.

As for Intelligence? It's a trans-species memetic disease, thus far identified in, iirc, humans, domesticated mammalian carnivores, dolphins and squid.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 11:32 AM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662


Why, oh why, did I have to come across this debate so late in the game. This is what happens when I abandon BC for one day. One!

It is interesting that here is a debate about where evil comes from when Discovery channel did a special for their Curiosity series on the same subject. As it turns out, they have come to the same conclusion that many behavioral psychologists (especially those that specialize in the biology of the brain) have come to: Behavior can be strongly influenced by brain chemistry.

Now, I'm not saying that this is all nature vs. nurture. I personally believe that it depends on the person and how easily influenced they are, but I want to look at the societal aspect of evil. The definition that we give evil, as Carl demonstrated. (Welcome back, by the way.)

Take Counterpart Theory. Counterpart Theory is the idea that define what is good and evil. If society A looks to be a a utopia to our eyes (perfect lawns, everyone says "Hi," children get good grades and are never late, everything is clean, everyone is equal), then what is evil to them? A person who deliberately litters or says a bad word could be the most evil thing in the world to them. The bar between what is good and evil moves up. 

Society B on the other hand we view is chaos, or complete evil. Hell on earth, complete anarchy. Having no government and doing whatever you want is good. Trying to control others is evil. They love their world that way and would be adept at surviving in it.

Now, I know these are extreme examples, but I used them to show that the idea of evil could also be a matter of perspective. After all, the idea of morality as good and evil didn't really come around until the Judeo-Christian religions were introduced into society. So how is that for the nurture aspect? Did I throw a monkey wrench into the conversation?
Nicki Hill
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 2:55 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175


I do think that there's probably an awful lot of nurture in behavior/people we view as evil.  A minor example (and one that also speaks to what LeeAnna said about evil being, essentially, in the eye of the beholder, and with which I wholeheartedly agree): I used to work in childcare, and every once in awhile, after coming in from the playground, we'd find a trespasser in the classroom in the form of something like a spider.  The kids would immediately want to squish it (as would most people, including myself in certain situations).  However, I wanted, along with all those things like colors and days of the week, to teach them compassion, so I showed them catch-and-release.  Had I encouraged the squishing of other creatures, I would argue that that would be nurturing a form of evil that had already been planted in these children from watching their parents and others squish bugs indoors.

Atthys Gage
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 4:11 PM
Joined: 6/7/2011
Posts: 467


Nicki.  This is an interesting example, though I can tell you from personal experience that wanting to squish a bug isn't necessarily a impulse only learned through watching other bug-squishers.  My daughter at a very young age was freaked out by bugs (as many are) and her natural impulse was to squish (or, rather, have me squish).  I always modeled catch and release, and I don't think she learned the squish response on Sesame Street.  I actually think the impulse to crush the threatening, creepy, crawly thing (which might, after all, be dangerous) is inborn.  We, as enlightened non-cave dwellers, have had to teach ourselves the concept of compassion toward vermin, but I do not think it is natural.    


Nicki Hill
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 5:27 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175


Hmm, perhaps it depends on the child.  I was one who let roly-polies and daddy long-legs crawl all over me as a small child and would catch crickets/grasshoppers, hatch spider eggs (outside), and otherwise be one with the bugs.  There were probably some particular critters I wasn't a huge fan of (multilegged things come to mind, like millipedes and silverfish, which are poisonous anyway; and big/furry/jumping spiders, which could or could not have potentially been dangerous), but in general I wasn't squeamish about bugs as a kid.

Atthys Gage
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:26 AM
Joined: 6/7/2011
Posts: 467


As you say, it depends on the child.  But I find it interesting that such variation can exist independent of upbringing.  Some people are just wired to hate bugs – a sort of cross-species race hatred.  Works with snakes, too, for a lot of people.  I'd imagine, for a hominid, living in the wild, the automatic assumption that a snake or a spider might be poisonous isn't a bad adaptive strategy.
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 8:47 AM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi GD,

Let me start with intelligence versus self-awareness by combining cats (again!) and something I remember from the joy of a Catholic elementary school education.   I was taught that when one confesses their sins, there are actually two types of contrition: perfect and imperfect.  In perfect contrition, you are sorry for your sins because you have offended and injured God, while in imperfect contrition you are sorry because you don’t want to end up in the celestial barbeque pit for all of eternity.  In an odd sense, this is the difference between human and animal intelligence.  Tabby learns quickly that if he scratches the couch he ends up having his furry little butt drop-kicked across the room.  In his dim little mind he soon associates scratching with pain and stops (at least while anyone is around to see him).  This is, in effect, imperfect contrition – I won’t do this because I’ll get hurt if I do.  Interestingly enough it also works on dogs and small children (see: Rod, Spare and Spoil Child).  Of the three (cat, dog, child), only the child ever develops the sense of a perfect contrition in the sense of not doing something because it is wrong, immoral, unethical, etc.  Tabby, for instance, will never think, “Oh, it really hurts the big critter’s feelings when I scratch this thing he sits on.  He seems to really like it, so I won’t damage it from now on.” Of course, along with that intellectual breakthrough comes the ability to make a decision to “screw the ethical implications, I’m going to do what I want to!”  The sense of self (self-awareness) takes on dimensions never reached by animals.  (Sadly though, I do know some people who actually think that cats do think these things through and are simply “giving you the middle claw” and doing what they want to.)

 

Now let’s ratchet up to Rwanda-style genocide.   Robert is spot on about how we have the ability to define groups as “the other”, and this also blends in LeeAnna’s,  Nicki’s, and Atthys’ comments.  Intelligence also gives us a unique ability to ignore (or deny) the obvious.  If I start teaching children at a very young age that red-haired people are evil demons because the red in their hair is a mark of the flames of hell they cannot hide, by the time they reach maturity that idea will be as natural to them as the fact that the sun rises in the morning (Counterpart Theory LeeAnna?).  If a higher authority (government) prevents them from taking any action, they will live with and interact with red heads, but at the same time they will always believe them to be evil, and if the chance arises, they will act on it.  Some people will make the observation that red heads act like normal people, have normal families and live normal lives and using their intelligence reject the red head = demon ideology, but many (some of whom may never have even met a red headed person) will continue to believe it.  That is basically what happened in Nazi Germany (which had a long heritage of anti-Semitism going back at least to the 18th century), and also Rwanda, Northern Ireland, etc.  As Robert put it, they are the “other”.     As the saying goes: “We need to be trained to hate.”  (as noted by Nicki and Atthys  when it comes to training children to respect all forms of life). Unfortunately, that goes on all the time.  You know, I often wonder if the “I was only following orders” defense originated because someone explained to those on trial that the “Well they weren’t human in the first place so what’s the prob?” defense wouldn’t fly.

 

Of course now we’re really stuck in the swamp.  If we can eradicate mosquitoes because they spread disease, why can’t we do the same to the (name of ethnic or religious group of your choice) because they are (sub-human, filthy, lazy, treacherous, traitorous, drooling rapists, cannibals {choose one or as many as you like})?  Isn’t this where intelligence is supposed to kick in? If it looks like a human, talks like a human, walks like a human, etc., isn’t it human? (Ignoring 1950’s B movie characters of course).  So in this case, the ruling authority that allows these things to happen is evil for allowing people to be evil by following  things they believe to be true because they’ve been taught them through tradition. (Oh my!)

 

Well, I guess you guys can really see that this whole question fascinates me (and I explore it quite a bit as subtext in Agony of the Gods). 

 

Last point, Carl’s definitions are great end points, but they are end points on a spectrum.  You can almost take all of the characteristics Carl mentions, put them into a tumbling barrel and then randomly put a few together to create a personality.  (Quick example: we had a local teacher who was very well respected, great person, wonderful, caring teacher, unfortunately also a pedophile).  Of course this is great for writers, but not so great for the real world.  Maybe the end result of intelligence (evolution GD?), personality, and nurture is the infinite ability to produce screwed up, damaged individuals.

 

Well, on that cheery note, I’ll bid you all good-day! J

Tom

 

 

 


Mimi Speike
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 2:12 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014



You may be wondering why I can't let go of my railing against reasonable advice. (See the thread, How To Make Your Characters Come Alive?) For I agree that logic in a piece, driving the nonsense if not front and center, is essential. And that guidelines and techniques can be helpful.
 
I've taken a break from my thing. I'm working up my energy for a new offensive. Before I do any fix-it work, I need to decide if my approach has a chance in hell of bucking the tide of current thinking and, more importantly, if it works, period. 

I'm going to make a list. What do I hands-down believe and refuse to alter? What positions am I prepared to abandon? What am I up in the air about?

I have stacks of books waiting to be read. I've sampled them in order to decide what to tackle first. Most of them are closer in spirit to my impulses than to yours. (This discussion was originally addressed to Jay.)  They're my taste in literature, naturally. That's why I bought them.

None of them is likely to embody that one-two formula that, thanks to you, I've just read about. If I turn out to be wrong, I'll let you know.

Every one of them has a back cover full of astonishing recommendations, and frequent mentions of prizes won. I have paid (as I seldom do) far more than a dollar or two for what I expect to be an enjoyable and educational experience. And I have attempted to buy myself some courage with a confirmation that I am not a lone nut. 

It's the mind-set of a madman to devote thirty years to a project that has no chance of any sort of success. So I (lately, anyway) spend as much time justifying my choices as I do in pushing my misadventure to a conclusion.

That's it in a nutshell.

I have a lot of work to do.


GD Deckard
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 9:15 AM
Progress report: I just finished editing Chapter 7 Next, edit Chapter 8! Woot!! (Well, the title of this thread is, Progress Report ;p) I've completed 53k of a 100k novel. The goal is to do some very basic editing of the chapters I've written so far to make sure themes & story lines don't unravel. I expect to finish this in the next few months. (Saying so publically can help make it so.)
Laura Dwyer
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 9:33 AM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192


GD, I find myself jealous that you are at that point in your work. Great! But in the least, it does inspire me to get BACK TO WORK!!

GD Deckard
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 11:06 AM
Laura As they exhort their workers over the loudspeakers at the Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems factory, "The only joy is the joy of duty. Work... work... work..."
'Course, the official motto of Yoyodyne is, "The future begins tomorrow."
guess y'can't really plan your life around quotes from Buckaroo Banzai.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 11:19 AM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662


All right, progress report: Got a new dog, so still trying to finish chapter 27. I have a page left to write, for Christ's sake! My husband had to go and pick the animal at the shelter that was exactly like him. He always needs attention. Sigh. I'll probably start chapter 28 at work to day just to keep my momentum up.
Nicki Hill
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 3:15 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175


Progress report: Nil completed since original post.  *sigh*  I did get a second review by a previous reviewer just a few days ago with some ideas for tweaking the third chapter, which I keep meaning to pull up and look at.  It's been a little crazy here, though, too - today was my last day of work (public schools) and I've been getting ready to move my last odds and ends an hour and a half south of my job to where my husband works and lives (I've been living there with him only part time, on weekends).  It's not really much of an excuse, since I've found plenty of other reasons to stay up later than I should every night besides working on the book...but I'm gonna go with it.  ;P  The good (bad?) news is that I have a full, nearly unbroken stretch of summer before me in which to focus my attention back on the craft, and so I'm planning to be more diligent and scheduled with the writing...

 

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